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At what point in her life did Joan of Arc make the following speech, "One life is...

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faintlove | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 1, 2008 at 9:52 AM via web

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At what point in her life did Joan of Arc make the following speech, "One life is all we have to live"? Is it historical?

Full quote: "One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying."

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted April 1, 2008 at 1:52 PM (Answer #1)

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I'm not sure whether the real Joan of Arc ever actually said these words. They are from Maxwell Anderson's play Joan of Lorraine. In Act 3 of the play, just before her execution, Joan says to Cauchon:

Each must believe for himself. Each soul chooses for itself. No other can choose for it; in all the world there is no authority for anyone save his own soul....Every man gives his life for what he believes. Every woman gives her life for what she believes. Sometimes people believe in little or nothing: One life is all we have, and we live it as we believe in living it, and then it's gone. But to surrender what you are, and live without belief--that's more terrible than dying--more terrible than dying young.

This play, starring Ingrid Bergman, was very successful, and Anderson later adapted it into a screenplay, again starring Bergman but retitled Joan of Arc.

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